Not all governments are out to get motorcycle riders! Melbourne City Council has produced a draft plan that nurtures and rewards motorcycle riders.
The draft plan which will go to council in the next couple of weeks actively encourages motorcycling as a “sustainable form of transport, which assists in reducing traffic congestion”.
Pinch us, because we feel like we are dreaming. We can’t recall any other council or government being so positive about motorcycling. It certainly seems to be in contradiction to the current government’s confrontationist approach and its rejection of lane filtering.
The stated goal of the Future Melbourne Committee’s Road Safety Plan 2013-2017 is to: “Create a safe, comfortable and richly engaging urban environment where pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are welcomed and supported through world leading road safety practices”.
The strategic objectives are:
Enhance the safety of all road users;
Improve the care and attention of motorists towards pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists;
Improve the relationship among pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists;
Reduce motor vehicle speeds in areas of high pedestrian movement; and
Recognise the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists in street design.
The goals are:
Investigate the benefits of motorcycle use;
Improve the road infrastructure to deliver an efficient transport network as per Transport Strategy 2012;
Increase participation in motorcycling;
Make motorcycling safer;
Enhance the convenience of the motorcycling experience;
Expand opportunities for motorcycle parking that do not impinge on the needs of pedestrians; and
Increase compliance with the Victorian Motorcycle Advisory Council guidelines.
Furthermore, the plan states: “The actions listed in the Action Plan will help motorcyclists feel welcomed and supported through safe, comfortable roads, and on-street and off-street parking.
That all sounds nice in theory but what does it actually mean in practice?
Here are some of the many actions, suggestions and investigations in the plan:
Plastic barriers around dangerous construction sites and protection around median strip trees;
Replacing steel and concrete bollards with plastic flexible ones;
Investigate solutions for slippery road paint, tram lines and metal plates;
Encourage the State Government to accept lane filtering and allow riders to use bus lanes;
Identify more places for free footpath parking and make it easier to find with appropriate signs;
Investigate early start-up for riders at traffic lights; and
Consider allowing riders access to closed roads and entry/turn bans.
There are a lot of suggestions which are outside the jurisdiction of the council and require working with other authorities such as the State Government and tram authority, however at least they are advocating on our behalf.
Melbourne has long been a conducive environment for riding motorcycles with free footpath parking and, until this year, no tolls. Consequently, the city has witnessed a steady growth of motorcycles from 1.5% of traffic in 2006 to 2.6% in 2014. That’s 73% in eight years, despite the fact that the changeable weather can often work against the rider!
As an urban environment, Melbourne isn’t too different from most other cities around the world, so why don’t more cities recognise the benefits of motorcycles and actively encourage them by creating a nurturing and rewarding climate?
The only concerns by the Australian Motorcycle Council are the crash statistics and analysis used in the report, which they say are negatively skewed and biased.
They may be, but they haven’t turned the committee against motorcycles.